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Sickness Equals Redness

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There's a joke about the Red Scare in here somewhere.

"One day Arthur decided he didn't like his nose.
He had a cold and his nose was red.
His sister thought his nose looked funny."

It isn't always easy to tell when someone is sick in real life. Lots of illnesses tend to affect the inside more than the outside.

In media, however, you'll know when someone is sick just by looking at their nose. If they are sick, their nose (and less often, their cheeks as well) will be bright red, to show the audience that they're sick. It's commonly seen alongside Bedhead-itis. They even look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Haha!

This is rarely Truth in Television. Only a few specific conditions (such as skin rashes or irritation from frequent congestion-induced nose-blowing) specifically cause redness of the nose. As stated above, most illnesses are not totally obvious. However, its omnipresence in media has led to the misconception where all illnesses cause red noses. That being said, more localized redness elsewhere on the body is a relatively common sign of disease, being one of the five cardinal signs of inflammation.

Compare Luminescent Blush, which is caused by embarrassment rather than illness, Green Around the Gills, which is specific to nausea, and Polka-Dot Disease, another type of fictional disease that's easy to spot. See also Drunken Glow, where alcohol instead of illness is the cause of the redness.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Talked about in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, when Algernon is talking about the possibility of an enemy soldier catching a cold and accidentally "hitting the Big Red Button with his big, red nose."

  • When Arthur is sick in the first Arthur book Arthur's Nose, the front of his snout is red.
  • In Danger: Boober Cooking, a picture book based on Fraggle Rock, Boober's snout turns pink after he catches a cold from the cold pond water.
  • In Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo, the sick girl Felicity is described as having a "red, runny nose".
  • In the Mr. Men book about Mr. Sneeze, Mr. Sneeze lives in a very cold place called "Coldland" and everyone has a red nose because they have a cold from the cold weather. Once it warms up, they instantly recover and their noses turn normal.
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee: Amos's nose is red when he wakes up sick.
  • In Sick Simon, Simon, as well as everyone who catches his cold, has a red nose.
  • In the children's book The Sniffles for Bear, Bear's snout turns red when he has a cold.
  • Roys Bedoys:
    • Subverted in “Let’s Go Hiking, Roys Bedoys!”, where Roys is flushed and seems out of sorts, but it turns out he’s just dehydrated.
    • Played straight in “Don’t Share Personal Items, Roys Bedoys!”, where Roys and Loys are sick and the bridges of their noses turn red.
  • Played with in The Worst Thing About My Sister when Marty fakes illness by hiding under her whale plushie so that her face will be hot and then scribbling on her face with a red crayon. Her mother is not fooled, though.

    Video Games 
  • Zigzagged in Cold and Flu Invasion: None of the sick customers appear red, but the player character gets a red face if he's close to catching a cold.
  • In the online game Vet Set Go, all the pets have red cheeks, even though they're either furry, feathery, a reptile, or a fish. These red cheeks go away when they're cured.

    Western Animation 
  • In Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, whenever Mrs Tiger catches a cold (it's happened twice), her cheeks will be red, even though she's furry.
  • An abundance of this was used in the Goofy short "Cold War", to the point where the cold germ's defining trait was its red nose.
  • In the Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs episode "Achoo", Harry has a cold and he's animated with a slight pinkish tinge under his nose and eyes.
  • How to Catch a Cold: The man has a pink, inflamed nose due to his cold.
  • The Looney Tunes short "Odor of the Day" has a dog catching a cold that makes him immune to a Smelly Skunk. The dog's black nose turns red to show this.
  • During his segment of the "Sneezes and Hiccups" episode of The Mr. Men Show, Mr. Stubborn has a pink nose while he has a cold.
  • Luz of The Owl House has a deep-red nose when she has the common mold in "Eclipse Lake".
  • Greg had a red nose in the PJ Masks episode "Greg's Stay-At-Home Sneezes", since he had a cold.
  • Carrot has a red nose in the Ready Jet Go! episode "Endless Summer", due to having a cold.
  • In one episode of Time Squad, Otto's nose and eyes turn red when he wakes up with a nasty cold.
  • Work It Out Wombats!:
    • In "Special Delivery," Sammy has a red nose because he is sick.
    • Kit and Kat are sick in "Talent Turmoil" and they have red splotches on their faces (they don't seem to have noses).


Kim Possible

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